Coyote Creek is a major tributary of the San Gabriel River in California’s northwest Orange County, southeast Los Angeles County, and southwest Riverside County.
Coyote Creek is approximately 13.7 miles (22.0 km) long and flows mainly southwest, although its North Fork, known on federal maps as La Canada Verde Creek, is 9.1 miles long (14.6 km). Carbon Creek is the longest single tributary at 13.6 miles (21.9 km), followed closely by Fullerton Creek at 13.0 miles (20.9 km). The watershed contains two important flood control reservoirs, Brea Reservoir and Fullerton Reservoir, which feed into Brea Creek and Fullerton Creek, respectively. The uppermost sections of the watershed are formed by Brea Creek and Tonner Canyon. Coyote Creek merges with the San Gabriel near its mouth in Long Beach.
Coyote Creek rises in two forks in the northwestern portion of Orange County, beginning at the border between Los Angeles and Orange County. Continuing south, it swings west and is met on the right bank by a number of south-flowing tributaries. Imperial Stream shortly joins the creek as it flows southwest through a succession of flood control channels that are alternately dirt and concrete lined. The fairly hastily built canal is described as concrete lined, “composite,” trapezoidal, or riprap. Coyote Creek receives its first major tributary, 9.8-mile (15.8 km) Brea Creek, on the right bank after crossing the Los Angeles-Orange County line three times.
Brea Creek begins in the watershed’s far northeastern section, near the border of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. The brook flows southwest, gathering various tributaries from the mountains on either side. Tonner Canyon (sometimes spelled Toner) greets it on the left bank as it momentarily turns north. Tonner Canyon originates near Brea Canyon and travels south-southwest till it swings northwest and meets Brea Canyon. The combined waters are known as Brea Creek downstream of the confluence. The creek eventually runs into the increasingly urbanized terrain of Brea Reservoir, which serves primarily as a flood control reservoir. The brook then flows west and merges with Coyote Creek on the left bank.
Coyote Creek flows southwest after absorbing water from Brea Creek, passing beneath Interstate 5, curving south for a short while before heading back north. It is joined by its North Fork, or La Canada Verde Creek, shortly downstream of the confluence. The 9.1-mile (14.6-kilometer) North Fork begins with three forks that join and flow south. The creek is joined on the left side by a tiny tributary before receiving a larger tributary, La Mirada Creek, on the left bank. The creek then flows south through a flood control canal until it meets Coyote Creek. Fullerton Creek, the third main tributary, joins Coyote on the left bank shortly after the confluence.
Fullerton Creek begins several miles south of Tonner Canyon and flows west-northwest at first. The creek then turns sharply south and flows into Fullerton Reservoir, which, like Brea, functions as a flood-control reservoir. The brook then flows southwest and south before almost straight into another unnamed tributary. The stream abruptly turns straight west and winds through mostly residential suburbs before spilling into Coyote on the left bank. The combined waters then flow southwest, passing beneath California State Route 91.
A minor tributary, Moody Creek, joins Coyote Creek on the left bank many miles after State Route 91. Moody Creek runs parallel to SR 91 for about 3.7 miles (6.0 km) before joining Coyote Creek.
Carbon Creek, a 13.6-mile (21.9-kilometer) tributary, then joins on the left bank. Carbon Creek is a mostly channelized stream that begins nearly 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Brea and Tonner Canyons. The creek flows west and south into several small flood-control basins before continuing west-southwest and receiving several small tributaries on either bank. The creek flows into Coyote Creek on the left bank, very close to its mouth at the San Gabriel River.
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